Have you ever used a lever? Sure.
You've used mechanical levers of all sorts your entire life. Your body is made up of levers A lever provides a mechanical advantage to move heavier loads. Archimedes once said, "Give me a lever long enough and I can move the world." Levers are powerful devices.
As we have seen, habits ultimately determine our health and fitness. We choose, develop and nurture habits, but not all habits are equal. Some habits have little impact; others however, are prime movers. The habits wielding leverage are, what I call: "Lever Habits". Lever habits are the few key habits which matter most.
I trust by now you have conducted or are conducting your habits inventory and have cataloged some good and bad habits. The good news is you don't have to worry about changing every bad habit; just identify the few key lever habits setting you back. Then adopt new lever habits to take you in a healthier direction.
Real and lasting change requires we only get a few things right. Getting a few things right affects core beliefs and empowers the habits process to properly engage our automatic pilot.
The orientation of the wings of a plane in flight is known as attitude. Flying high and straight and far is a matter of managing attitude. Attitude determines altitude.
Healthy, fit people operate with a positive attitude and growth-oriented mindset.
A positive attitude, growth-oriented mindset is a state of being creative and supportive. People with positive attitudes and growth-oriented mindsets see the world as a playground, where obstacles are challenges to help them grow.
Sustaining a positive, growth-oriented mindset does take discipline – until it becomes a habit.
Maintain the right mindset by feeding your mind with positive inspiration regularly and associate with positive people. Focus on worthwhile, creative tasks and set challenging and achievable goals. Build and sustain a network of support; people to call on, collaborate with, and rely on. No one succeeds alone.
Though thinking is perhaps our most difficult and challenging task, thought, is the most powerful tool we have in our toolbox for life. Thought bridges the gap between the reality of circumstance, the world out there, and the potential, the unlimited supply of source.
The preeminent lever to change your life is cultivating a positive, optimistic, grateful attitude; a growth-oriented mindset.
Let's talk nutrition.
Sometimes having the wrong information just doesn't matter. We can be misinformed and mistaken and we can get along just fine. Sometimes though, when we get it wrong, we pay a price. It's generally not what we don't know that hurts us; it's what we know that just isn't so.
Sustaining health and fitness means fueling our bodies with the right, the best fuels. And we routinely get this wrong. Optimum nutrition is not a matter of conforming to a calorie equation: how much we eat versus how much we do. Don't believe it.
Here is another idea to let go: fat is bad for us. Fat is not the enemy.
We need varied and complex nutrients to properly fuel and maintain our bodies. Let's talk about the big three: carbohydrates, fats and proteins.
Carbohydrates, fats and proteins provide calories and essential nutrients. Calories are energy units, but to be healthy we need more than just energy. We need vitamins and minerals and phytonutrients, water, and other nutritional aids like fiber and yeast, and prebiotics and probiotics to ensure all aspects of our cooperative system flourish and thrive.
By embracing the calorie myth and making fat public enemy number one we have turned society down a disease-ridden path.
Our food production system has gotten extremely good at delivering calories conveniently for little cost. Those calories just aren't in the best form for sustaining health and wellbeing. And unfortunately convenience is often our default criteria for selecting what we consume.
The prime culprit setting us back is a carbohydrate: sugar. Sugar is throwing our systems out of whack. Our bodies can't manage the overabundance of simple sugars we consume in drinks and other processed foods. The simple strategy for sustained health and wellbeing is: consume fresh, whole, natural foods.
To properly engage your health and fitness auto-pilot consume only fresh, whole, natural foods.
Get off the convenient, low-cost, high calorie, high-sugar, artificial ingredient laden, processed-food gravy train.
You need not sacrifice taste or spend more money. Here are a few tips to get you started: Get rid of anything with artificial sweeteners, trans-fats or high fructose corn syrup. Aim to reduce the number of ingredients in the foods you buy. Shop the perimeter of the grocery store – where you find vegetables and fruits, meats, eggs and dairy products. And finally, eat a salad every day; preferably as your main meal.
Initiate these routines and you're well on your way to properly engaging you auto-pilot for optimum health and fitness.
Now, let's turn to another key lever habit – play.
Have you played yet today?
If you've ever channel surfed you've seen all the ads for must-have fitness gadgets and gizmos. Truth be told, you don't need all that stuff; you don't need any of that stuff. You have everything you need already. All you need is a body and some resistance. And guess what? The planet we are on just happens to supply, naturally, all the resistance you need. It's called gravity.
I'm not suggesting you cancel your gym membership; or throw away all those gadgets and gizmos. They can offer us structure, discipline and variety; but don't use not having those things as an excuse – move, play, twenty minutes every day.
Moving requires you to overcome gravity. Our bodies have an amazing, adaptive capability. The more resistance you overcome, the more your body adapts to deal with an additional load and the stronger and more capable you become.
Consider these movements to engage your largest muscle groups as you play.
Remember, proper technique ensures optimum results and guards against injury, so if you aren't familiar with these moves seek proper instruction.
First squats. Make sure your play session includes squats: on two legs, with one-leg, in any number of variations including lunges to the front, sides and rear. The more squats you do, with increasing resistance and through larger ranges of motion, the stronger you become.
For an upper-body movement the push up is one of the best. Like squats, push-ups can be done in a variety of positions: full plank, on your knees, with varied hand placements, on unstable services. Push-ups engage your core, your chest, shoulders and arms.
If you are ready for an even greater challenge; the preeminent upper body movement is the pull-up. Even if you can't yet do a single pull-up start training now. Building strength comes down to deliberately, consistently overcoming resistance.
You can complete an entire productive routine of body-weight movements during your play session in as little as ten minutes.
To get stronger in the shortest time, however, focus on eccentric movements. Rather than struggling to push or pull your weight up focus on slowly resisting as gravity naturally pulls you down.
For a squat, push-up or pull-up start in the upper position. Slowly resist gravity as you lower yourself down. Take ten seconds to get to the low point. Then take another ten seconds to return to the start. Repeat each move at least six times; if six is easy – add additional resistance.
Eccentric exercises, particularly those done at maximum effort will produce strength gains and initiate beneficial metabolic triggers for the least amount of time committed.
You have everything you need to play – a body and gravity. Overcome resistance as you play every day.
Remember: Attitude determines altitude. Get your attitude – a positive, growth-oriented habit of mind right.
Eat only fresh, whole, natural foods to fuel your body.
And finally use what you've got – your body and gravity – to overcome resistance and play every day.
Now to our habit-changing process.
You've conducted your habits inventory and rank ordered habits to eliminate. You've selected the first habit to work on and you've sketched out, or examined the habit cycle, for that one habit. Now dig a little deeper into that routine. You know the habit isn't serving you. You are likely going to face that trigger again; so what routine can you substitute for the action you are habitually taking now?
If you automatically reach for chips when you're hungry what could you do instead?
The task is: come up with a substitute – a healthy, positive action routine – for the trigger that now sets off an unhealthy response. And try out that new routine.
In the next session, we'll talk more about the "how to".
See you there.